Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Coming to the end...

      This week marks my last week in the United Kingdom. To be completely honest I am not so sure how I feel about it. To sum it up I guess you could say it is bitter sweet. I feel like it was so long ago when I was just arriving here and settling in. Now I  am trying to figure out how I am going to fit everything in my suitcase to go home. I have had such an amazing time here at Kingston. I have met so many great people and I would not change it for anything. But on the other hand I miss my family and every one back home.
     As the month wraps up, I have two papers due for my classes and I have one final exam on Thursday. But along with school work, I am going to try and soak up my last few days in London and enjoy every last minute of it. Tonight I am off to Shakespeare's Globe Theatre to see a play for one of my classes. Being someone who is an English minor and has studied Shakespeare in college, I am beyond excited to be able to get the chance to see a play at the Globe.
     This past weekend, I went into Central London to get all of my last minute tourist sightseeing done. I ended up staying in London until it got dark and I am so happy that I did. I got to see the London Eye lit up. Although the London Eye is pretty to look at during the day, it is ten times better when it is lit up at night.

    I feel like I still have some much to do here but yet I have only a few more days left. The next few days are about to be the busiest days I have had in a long time! 

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Abbey Road and other Adventures

  Today I checked off one major thing from my bucket list! I visited Abbey Road and Abbey Road studios. For those of you who have no idea what either of those is, Abbey Road is where The Beatles took their infamous photo for the cover of their Abbey Road album. The studios are also the place where The Beatles recorded 90% of their music. So for a person like me who loves music and The Beatles, I was extremely excited. 

    After my friends Eena, Ryan and I went to Abbey Road Studios, we ventured back onto the tube and headed to the house that was used in the movie "The Parent Trap." I had seen the movie a few times when I was younger and my friend Eena really wanted to see it so I decided it would be a really cool thing to check out. 

     While we were out we decided to get gelato. I personally had never had gelato before so this was a very exciting experience for me. I love ice cream so much, so gelato was right up my alley. I got chocolate and coffee flavor and to be honest it was one of the best things I have ate the whole time I have been over here. 

     This trip has been amazing so far and I can't believe that there is only two weeks left. These last two weeks are going to go by so fast but I hope that I can fit in as many things as possible before I head back to the U.S.A. 

Monday, July 14, 2014

Week of Beautiful Sites

      I can now say that I made it through the first week of classes without getting lost on the train or the tube. To me that seems like quite the accomplishment. I have had to travel everyday into London for one of my classes, so I feel as if I have become a professional at finding my way on the tube. At times all the different connections can get confusing and going through during rush hour can be very stressful but I am getting the hang of it.
      For one of my classes, called Exploring Cultural London, I got to go up in The Shard. It is currently the tallest building in the European building, consisting of 87-stories. I only got to go to around the 72nd floor but for someone who is not fond of heights, that was high enough for me. From the top of The Shard, the view is just breathe taking. It gave me perspective into how diverse the architecture is in London. There could be a skyscraper standing next to a cathedral that dates back to the 1800's, it just fascinates me.

      Also this week, I got to go to Greenwich which was absolutely beautiful. For my class, we were looking at how London used to be a huge port city and it used to bring in a lot of trade. So we went around to all of the different ports looking at how they used to operate. Greenwich was our last stop of the day and we stopped at The Queen's House which was made for Anne of Denmark, the Queen to King James I. It has now been turned into a wonderful art gallery. We were fortunate enough to walk through and look at the paintings. Behind the house, there is a huge hill that overlooks the city. It was quite the climb but once you reached the top, the view was worth it. 
The Queen's House

 The Spiral Staircase in The Queen's House

The hill we climbed.

The view from the top. 

     The main thing that has changed for me while being here is my sleep schedule. The days here seem to be a lot longer. I know that they aren't but the sun comes up a lot earlier and goes down a lot later. Therefore, I tend to wake up a lot earlier than I normally would at home because my bedroom is lit up from the sun in the early morning. The sun doesn't go down till about 10 p.m. here so my body thinks that it still has like 3 or 4 hours till it needs to go to bed, therefore I can never fall asleep at night when I want to. 
   Overall, the first week full week here was absolutely amazing. I can't wait for all of the other places that I get to see in the coming weeks. I cant believe it has already been over a week. It feels like time is going too fast! 

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Settling In

I have been at Kingston for about 5 days and I can honestly say I love it here! The people, the atmosphere and everything about it I just love. The past few days have felt like a blur, from getting here on the plane to getting settled and meeting everyone but it has all been so fun.

I am currently staying in one of Kingston University's resident halls called Seething Wells. At Kingston, their resident halls are not right on campus like they are at Central. Our hall is about a 20 minute walk to the main campus which is where our classes will be held. When it comes to the dorms, they are very similar to what I would imagine a dorm room to look like. But in the United Kingdom, they call the dorms flats and you share your flat with 4 other people, as well as a kitchen. I will include some pictures of my room so you can get a better view of what the rooms look like.


On Friday, we started our first official day of classes. The classes I will be taking are called, Exploring Cultural London and British Culture and Society. They are both very much based on how things have developed and changed over the years in both England and London. For these classes, they work a little different than classes at CMU. I will be spending most of my time out of the classroom going to the things that we are actually talking about. We will be taking a lot of field trips to different places so that we are able to take in the extent of history some of these places hold.

Yesterday we were sent into London in groups to explore and do a scavenger hunt. The idea was to help us get better acquainted with the London Underground and the bus system before we had to go into London by ourselves for class. We got to see so many different things including, The London Eye, Big Ben, and so many more.

Tomorrow is my first trip into London for one of my classes, I will be going to The Shard and The Museum of London.  I can't wait to see what tomorrow has in store for me. 

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

The Wait is Almost Over!!

In less than 24 hours I will be boarding a plane to London. In my mind it just doesn't feel real. I guess you could say that my brain hasn't wrapped around that fact that tomorrow is the day that I have been counting down to for the last 6 months. In less than 24 hours I will be on a plane en route to the one place I have always wanted to visit. To say I have a mixture of emotions right now would be an understatement. But overall I would say that I am ready!
                Nerves? Yes I have them. I feel like that is normal though. Although I have traveled a little in the past, I have never been out of the United States. Therefore I am feeling quite nervous about traveling by myself to a country I have never been. To me that is just part of the adventure, taking on new things and proving to yourself that you can do them.
In preparation for leaving, today I spent my whole day packing. Those who know me will attest that it is just like me to wait till the last minute to do everything. So today I was running around like crazy getting everything in order to leave. All in all I got it done and I am all packed and ready to go. While I was packing I realized that one of the hardest parts about getting ready to leave is packing. I have no clue what I am going to need for a month while I am there. Therefore, this lead to me wanting to pack everything I owned. I had to go through my piles of clothes multiple times to narrow down exactly what I needed. In the end, I realized that I would just have to take a little bit of everything.

Tomorrow marks another fantastic adventure in my life. I am so excited for all of the things that I am about to experience and all of the people that I am about to meet. 

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

36 days…. But who’s counting!

It’s hard to believe that in just over a month I leave for a trip that I have been working towards for a year now. At times it doesn't seem real but at others it seems pretty overwhelming. Overall, I can’t begin to describe how excited I am to go.

To start, let me tell you a little about myself and my journey with study abroad. My name is Emily Stoddard, and I am 21 years old.  I am currently a senior at Central Michigan University, majoring in Math for Secondary Education and minoring in English. I have always been a traveler at heart but I have never acted upon the dreams that I had. One of my biggest dreams was to go to London and the United Kingdom. So when I got to CMU, I accompanied my best friend to a study abroad fair. That is where my study abroad journey began. At the fair, I looked into a few different programs but in my heart I knew that I wanted to go to the UK. So I did a little research and I came across Kingston University. I knew that I would not be able to go for a whole semester or year because it just would not work with my schedule. Therefore, when I found out they had a month long summer program I was beyond thrilled. From there I started the process by meeting with my wonderful adviser and getting all the information I needed to apply to my program.

Hence this summer, I am studying at Kingston University, in Kingston Upon Thames in the United Kingdom. To give you an idea of where that is located, from what I have researched, it is about 20 minutes outside of London. I will be at Kingston for about a month 
(July 2- August 3) for their summer program. While I am there, I will be taking 2 classes which total to 6 credits. I will be living in one of the dorms on campus at the University. I will be doing future posts on the classes and the accommodations (including pictures) when I arrive at Kingston. 

Although I am sad to leave my family and friends, I am extremely excited for the new memories that I am about to make. I cannot wait for the amazing adventure that I am about to embark on this summer.